Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses known to cause respiratory infections. This new coronavirus is called COVID-19. Symptoms range from fever, tiredness, dry cough, aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. Some people recover quickly and easily, and other may get very sick, very quickly.

The Australian Government has enacted the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency Response Plan. COVID-19 has the potential to seriously impact disability service provider activities and requires specific action to maintain client and staff safety.

DIA is working with key with key government and health agencies to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and ensure our members are prepared and receiving the most up to date and reliable information possible. We ask that you check this page for any further updates.

If you are concerned about your health or that of your staff or clients call the Coronavirus Health Information line 1800 020 080.  If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.  Health Direct, a government-funded service, has a symptom checker available on their website. 

Please keep us informed about any particular issues impacting your ability to deliver services so that we may assist in resolving them.

We urge all DIA members and Intermediary Providers to stay abreast of the rapidly changing information as this situation develops:

COVID19 SECOND WAVE RESTRICTIONS: Stage 4 Greater Melbourne & Stage 3 Regional VIC

DIA has been working closely with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, the NDIA and the NDIS Commission for the past number of weeks as the COVID-19 restrictions have been ramping up in Victoria.

  • Greater Melbourne is now in Stage 4 restrictions.
  • Regional Victoria from Thursday will be in Stage 3 restrictions.
  • Restrictions are changing to slow the spread of coronavirus.
  • There will be further announcements this week.
  • While some activities are still allowable, it is important we all rethink the need for community activities and leaving home unless absolutely essential.

All disability support workers must wear a face mask regardless of where they work in Victoria – this is a requirement for both Stage 3 and Stage 4 restrictions.

DOWNLOAD: James MacIsaac from DHHS Victoria has provided a presentation around restrictions in Victoria.
Released Tuesday 4th August 2020

DOWNLOAD: Philip O’Meara from DHHS Victoria has provided a presentation around inform on a range of COVID-19 measures for Support and Service Providers in Victoria and the Disability Rapid Response Group.
Released Tuesday 4th August 2020


Essential Services
Stay at home directions for the Melbourne area provides four reasons for leaving home

Melbourne’s stage 4 restrictions mean there are very few reasons for people to be outside of their homes. Police will be pulling people over to conduct compliance checks, with big fines now in place for those outside without a permitted reason. On Tuesday (4th August 2020) the Victorian Government announced a worker permit system is being introduced to stop people getting around the new lockdown rules.

Whilst services should be provided remotely where possible, essential Services are permitted to continue:

  • These are disability supports that are essential to a person’s health, safety, behaviour and wellbeing
  • Essential services may be provided in-home, in a facility or in the community (in limited circumstances) and include:
    • Residential services, including STAA
    • In-home support
    • Behavior support services
    • Community support within one of the four reasons listed above
    • Centre-based services – where support is essential to the person or the person’s family
    • Aids and Equipment / Assistive Technology – where essential
  • A person can be supported by more than one support worker when leaving home for one of the four reasons.


Disability support workers may travel into restricted areas to provide essential disability services. A person may travel more than 5 km to access an essential support if this is necessary.

Exercise and restricted activities
Under stage 4 restrictions exercise is restricted to one hour a day. A person may only exercise with one other person (no household groups) but can have two support workers if necessary.

Recreational activities are not able to be undertaken; for example, golf, fishing. Other restricted activities include indoor physical recreation and sport, outdoor sport and recreation, play centre or publicly accessible playground, skate park, outdoor communal gym equipment, and entertainment facilities.

Work Permits

Workers from permitted industries (which includes disability supports and NDIS Services) are allowed outside their homes to travel to or from work, even during the 8:00pm to 5:00am curfew. But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says employees will be required to carry a worker permit when they travel to their workplace. Employers will be required to issue these signed permits to their employees to allow them to attend a workplace from 11:59pm on Wednesday.

More information about work permits can be found on the Victorian Department for Health and Human Services website.



Stay at Home Directions – Stage 3 commences in regional areas at 11:59 pm on Wednesday, 5 August. There are four reasons that you can leave home, and when leaving home you must wear a mask or face covering, otherwise, you must stay at home.

Restricted activities
Any support services provided must be consistent with the Restricted Activities (Restricted Areas) Directions.  These Directions include restrictions on indoor and outdoor activities and the numbers of people who may be involved.



DHHS is currently working on a number of issues to support the response to COVID-19. DHHS has already undertaken development of a number of initiatives both in response to outbreak preparation and intervention:

Outbreak response – preparation

  • COVID-19 plan for the disability services sector
  • National Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability
  • Practice advice
    • Hand hygiene, cough etiquette, social distancing
    • Appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment
    • Guidance on public health directions
  • Infection control training
  • Business continuity and preparedness training
  • Infection Prevention and Control Outreach Team – pre-emptive visits to accommodation providers
  • Advice and support on infection control procedures and outbreak preparedness

Outbreak response – intervention

  • Outbreak Management Protocol
    • Details roles and responsibilities of DHHS, NDIA and NDIS Commission
  • On identifying an outbreak within disability accommodation, an Outbreak Management Team is established
    • Co-chaired by DHHS and provider
    • Includes NDIA representative
    • Oversees and supports implementation of provider’s Outbreak Management Plan
    • Facilitates emergency PPE, in-home testing, nursing surveillance support
  • NDIA has extended SIL supports for positive COVID-19 cases
  • Disability Incident Case Manager supporting people, families and providers where suspected or confirmed case
  • Workers can access COVID-19 Test Isolation and Worker Support Payments

Disability Rapid Responce Group

DHHS Victoria have established a Disability Rapid Response Group (DRRG) which will provide dedicated capability to support COVID-19 outbreak management throughout the course of an outbreak in a disability setting, including the allocation of a ‘Disability Incident Case Manager’. The aim of the DRRG is to protect the health, safety and well being of people with disability and staff in impacted service settings to contain, control and end outbreaks as quickly and safely as possible; and through preventative strategies, minimise the likelihood of an outbreak.

Priority areas:

  • Supporting prevention and preparedness activities through coordination of visits to disability residential services, and dissemination of resources and tools to the sector
  • Coordination between the NDIA, NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission and Department of Social Services that specifies roles and responsibilities in jointly managing COVID-19 outbreaks within residential services
  • Working with each provider to determine appropriate support response based on public health requirements and clinical advice, including assistance with infection prevention and control; PPE; workforce; communications; supporting residents at the facility
  • Facilitating access to clinical services
  • Assisting with any emergency disability accommodation arrangements

Supporting a timely response to outbreaks

To assist DRRG in rapidly responding to cases of COVID-19 within residential services, providers will need to email the Department directly upon receiving advice about a positive COVID-19 test. This includes if the advice was received directly from an employee, medical professional supporting a resident or from the Department’s Tracing Team. Providers supporting participants in other settings are also asked to alert the Department in the event of a positive test.

Email when you have a COVID-19 positive case in your service. This additional notification process will complement advice on new cases that the Department receives directly from the NDIS Commission, as such all registered providers are still required to notify the NDIS Commission when you have a COVID-19 positive case in your service.





DIA will add questions and answers to this document as they become available.

Are support coordinators allowed to visit participants at home, especially those who are deaf and / or don’t have the technology to access meetings online?

  • All services should be provided remotely where possible. If a person is unable to communicate via remote access or where such visits are the only reasonable option, then face to face visits can occur however only with appropriate infection control measures, this may include PPE.

Can Registered Plan Management Providers (RPMPs) meet with participants face to face.

  • Generally NO. RPMPs should conduct all interactions with participants remotely via telepractice, videpractice or messenger / chat streaming.

Can NDIS participants travel beyond 5km to receive essential therapy services?

  • Yes if the therapy is essential and cannot be provided closer to home.

Can families travel to visit their son or daughter in SDA if it is more than 5km away?

  • Yes, however families should consider whether the visit is necessary and can be provided remotely. Under Care Facilities Direction, only one person may visit per day for a maximum of one hour.

Can day programs still operate and should participants attend?

  • Day programs are still able to operate if they comply with physical distancing and other specific requirements.
  • Due to the risk of potential community transmission attendance should only occur if considered absolutely essential. This is not considered to be essential for participants who are living in disability residential services / settings.

If a support worker takes a participant out for exercise for one hour, can the support worker still do his/her own personal exercise for one hour?

  • Yes, the hour used for participant exercise is separate to the support workers own hour of exercise.

Can gardening services for participants be provided under stage 4 restrictions?

  • Generally NO. However should emergency works (such as fallen trees, garden stability works after heavy rain), then these can be conducted during Stage 4 restrictions.

Can home cleaning services for participants be provided under stage 4 restrictions?

  • Generally Yes, however these need to be only where a participants Health, Safety or Well-being are considered. This may mean that it could be appropriate in some settings to reduce cleaning services whilst in Stage 4 restrictions. Participants and/or their Nominee should consider what is absolutely needed and will be able to have that support to deliver that.



Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Stuart Robert, announced temporary changes to funding arrangements to allow NDIS participants in Victoria and New South Wales to claim the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks. 

With community transmission of coronavirus evident in both states and in line with current health advice, Minister Robert said the Australian Government was acting to ensure participants more at risk are supported to access PPE and continue to receive their disability supports.

‘Unfortunately we’ve seen in recent weeks that our battle with COVID-19 is far from over,’ Minister Robert said.

‘As a result, we have put in place additional temporary measures so participants living in Victoria and New South Wales, who have face-to-face assisted daily living supports can flexibly use their existing NDIS funds to cover the cost of the PPE they need to keep themselves safe, including face masks.

‘We know that participants who receive face-to-face supports may be at higher risk of transmission, with daily support from their workers regularly involving close physical contact.’

From today, NDIS participants who rely on face-to-face supports and assistance with their daily living will be able to use an existing support item (Low Cost Disability-Related Health Consumables) to claim on the cost of PPE for the times their worker is with them.

In Victoria and NSW, the ability to claim for the cost of PPE will be extended to providers allowing workers to continue delivering essential disability supports to NDIS participants.

Participants living in their own home who test positive for COVID-19 and are required to self-isolate or quarantine will also now be able to claim for related cleaning costs.

Existing measures that provide additional funding for providers of Supported Independent Living (SIL) where there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as announced on 27 April, will also be extended.  SIL providers will now also be able to claim for higher intensity supports to cover situations where there is a potential COVID-19 positive case of a participant and they are required to self-isolate or quarantine.

‘The health and wellbeing of participants and their support workers has remained the Government’s priority throughout this pandemic, and it’s important none of us get complacent,’ Minister Robert said.

‘These measures ensure everyone’s able to do their bit, and follow the public health guidelines while minimising the risk of spread and protecting each other from the virus.

‘We will continue to monitor the situation and won’t hesitate to implement further measures if it means protecting our participants and their support workers.’

Today’s announcement is in addition to existing NDIS participant-focused coronavirus response measures, including offering alternatives for face-to-face planning meetings to participants, plan extensions for up to 24 months following review and flexible use of funds to purchase low cost assistive technology.

Information about Purchasing personal protective equipment.




STAGE 1: FROM JULY 1, 2020

The Minister for the NDIS, The Hon Stuart Robert, has announced the first stages of a post-covid19 NDIS, following a review of temporary measures to support participants and disability providers during the pandemic. The following will apply from 1 July 2020:

  • Removal of the temporary 10 per cent price loading on certain core and capacity building supports;
  • The definition of short term cancellations reverts back to two business days. Providers will still be able to claim 100 per cent of the agreed support price for a cancellation at short notice, as introduced as part of the Annual Price Review; and
  • The Medium Term Accommodation (MTA) period will return to the original policy of 90 days (rolled back from 180 days).

Recovery of the advance payment to providers will commence on 1 October 2020, via six equal monthly installments. The NDIA will contact affected providers with more details on this process. The recovery method is designed to ensure providers retain cash flow and existing payment claims and remittance processes continue without change.

The temporary arrangements for Supported Independent Living (SIL) and the flexible approach to purchase low cost assistive technology remain in place after 1 July, and will be reviewed in due course.

The NDIA have published an updated Price Guide 2020–21 to reflect the end of these temporary arrangements. The final price limits for 2020‒21 are not yet known as this is dependent on the Fair Work Commission’s decision on minimum wage rates. The updated Price Guide 2020‒21 also includes some clarifications:

  • A support for a single participant by a single worker that crosses a shift boundary can be billed at the single higher rate;
  • Capacity Building support items included for innovative community participation and community participation activities; and
  • Allied health assistants and therapy assistants can deliver group-based supports.

Visit the NDIS website for more information including:

There has been no word as yet regard the roll back of the Support Coordination line items within the Core Budget. DIA will continue to keep its members updated as we transition out of COVID-19.



The NDIA has announced further measures to support the increased workload on Support Coordinators responding to COVID-19.

  • Three new Support Coordination items have been introduced to the support catalogue under Core Supports, Assistance with Daily Life, effective 25 March 2020:
    • 01_790_0106_8_3 – Level 1: Support Connection
    • 01_791_0106_8_3 – Level 2: Coordination Of Supports
    • 01_794_0132_8_3 – Level 3: Specialist Support Coordination

    These new line items duplicate items already claimable under Capacity Building Supports.

    The new item numbers allow participants to use their funds more flexibly to access these supports from either their Core or Capacity Building budgets.

  • Plans to be extended by 12 months automatically at plan end where participants are waiting to conduct a full plan review this will make sure funds are available for participants to purchase the supports they need.
  • A quick response team is being established to support participants that are in the complex support pathway – they will engage with SC’s directly through out the COVID-19 crisis.
  • A quick response team has been established for light touch plans so if the plan extensions still aren’t enough or plans are burnt through quicker than 12 months they can be quickly corrected. To reach this team, dial 1800 800 110 and select option 5.

DIA welcomes this moves and will continue to work hard to ensure our members and the boarder Intermediaries Sector are supported through this pandemic.

The NDIA has release a number of FAQ’s on these changes which are available on the NDIS website, which include:

How long will Support Coordination be available in a participant’s Core budget?

  • This change is effective from 25 March 2020 and will be in place for up to six months. The NDIA will review this change in three months to assess if the change continues to be appropriate.

Are the new Support Coordination core line items available to existing participants or only a participant with a new plan?

  • Support Coordination is available as a core support to both new and existing participants who have funding for core supports, to ensure participants get the supports they need.
  • If a participant needs additional assistance from their Support Coordinator, and funds are low, a participant is encouraged to call NDIA on 1800 800 110. Special teams of planners in the NDIA are available to help.

Are line items only applicable to participants who have been funded for Support Coordination and need increased support during the current pandemic?

  • The new Support Coordination line items are available to both participants who have Support Coordination in their plans and those that do not.
  • For those with Support Coordination already in their plan, the change enables them to access funds for additional hours of this support where they may need it due to corona virus (COVID-19).
  • For those participants without funded Support Coordination in their plan, their local area coordinator (LAC) or Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) partner is their first point of contact. Where an LAC is not available to change the plan to include Support Coordination, participants who do not usually have access to Support Coordination can only access the new items through their Core support budget.
  • Participants without Support Coordination as a reasonable and necessary support in their plan cannot claim Support Coordination from their Capacity Building budget. These participants can only access the new items through their Core budget.
  • Only participants with Support Coordination included as a reasonable and necessary support in their plan are able to claim Support Coordination from both their Capacity Building and Core support budgets.

Based on the participant’s existing Core budget, is there a limit to how much funding can be used for Support Coordination?

  • Participants are encouraged to consider their current support needs when determining how to flexibly use their Core budget and whether to use this budget to purchase Support Coordination services.
  • Participants should use existing Support Coordination funding first in their Capacity Building budget before using core supports. If funds in either budget are low, a plan review meeting over the phone or by email should be requested as soon as possible so a new plan can be arranged.

Do you need to be registered for Support Coordination and / or core supports to claim for these line items?

  • If the participant is Agency-managed, providers need to be registered for Support Coordination to be able to deliver Support Coordination services.
  • These registration groups are Support Coordination (high level – Specialist Support Coordination) and Assist Life Stage Transition (lower level – Coordination of Supports and Support Connection).
  • As long as you are a registered Support Coordination service provider, then you can access these line items during these times; however, funds from Capacity Building should be used first before accessing Core supports.
  • Participants who are self-managed or plan-managed can access unregistered providers.
  • To register for Support Coordination (except WA), please visit the NDIS Commission.
  • WA providers wishing to apply or add these registration groups have until Tuesday 14 April 2020 to complete their application with the WA Government. Find out more about registering in WA.

If the participant has Support Coordination in their plan but runs out of funds, can the provider give additional service with their consent?

  • Providers should review and abide by the service agreements they currently have in place with participants, and agree with the participant before implementing any changes.
  • If a participant requires additional Support Coordination services due to COVID-19, they can flexibly draw on their Core supports. Participants can flexibly use their funding across any of the four support categories under Core Supports.
  • If a participant is running out of total funds, a plan review meeting over the phone or by email should be requested as soon as possible so anew plan can be arranged.
  • If the participant’s plan is about to expire, it will be automatically be extended by 12 months to ensure that participants have the funding they need. This extended plan will have the same Core and Capacity Building budget funds as the current plan. For more information, please check the latest advice.

What are the reporting requirements for Support Coordinators if claiming hours using the new core line items?

  • Reporting requirements remain the same whether a provider claims Support Coordination services using core or capacity building line items.

DIA notes: Reporting requirements should be listed on a Request for Service (RFS) issued by the NDIA. Where a participant engages a Support Coordinator directly through the flexible use of their core funds, i.e. a participant who has not received funded Support Coordination, should disuses what reporting they would like to engage and where that reporting is sent (i.e. directly to the participant or to the NDIA etc).

Can two service providers give Support Coordination services from the same plan?

  • This is actively discouraged because supports could be duplicated leading to poor coordination of the total package of supports.

How can plan reviews be prioritised due to corona virus (COVID-19) change of circumstances?

  • For plan review requests related to corona virus (COVID-19) changes of circumstance, please phone the National Contact Centre on 1800 800 110 and select option 5, so your enquiry can be prioritised and monitored.

How should Support Coordinators maintain communication with hard to reach participants without access to the internet or phone?

  • Even in this challenging time, Support Coordinators are expected to be proactive and make multiple attempts to contact a participant through their preferred method of communication.
  • If a Support Coordinator is unable to contact a participant, they should get in touch with a participant’s identified emergency contact or next of kin.
  • If all emergency contacts have been exhausted, Support Coordinators are encouraged should contact state / territory emergency services if they have concerns about a participant’s welfare.
  • The NDIA will also be proactively contacting vulnerable participants (or their nominees).

During the pandemic, how should Support Coordinators help participants implement a crisis plan?

  • Support Coordinators are expected to review and adjust a crisis plan in consultation with the participant and make necessary adjustments, due to the pandemic.
  • This could include revising a participant’s key contacts and/or family supports, maintaining more regular contact where necessary to understand a participant’s current support needs and adjust for any changes to supports if required.

How should Support Coordinators help a participant when providers are unable to deliver supports, either temporarily or for a longer time due to corona virus (COVID-19)?

  • In situations where a provider is unable to deliver supports, a Support Coordinator should consider alternative support options or consider enacting a participant’s crisis plan.
  • The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) and the NDIA are closely monitoring changes in service availability and working cooperatively to ensure there is continuity of critical supports for participants.
  • Registered NDIS providers in all states except Western Australia are required to notify the NDIS Commission of significant impacts to their ability to provide supports to participants.
  • In the event a Support Coordinator contracts corona virus (COVID-19), they are required to follow relevant health advice.
  • Participants should be immediately informed of any disruption to Support Coordination, and alternative support options should be discussed and agreed, including transferring services to another Support Coordination provider or enacting a participant’s crisis plan.

DIA is actively engaging with the NDIA on a RPMP COVID-19 response.

RPMPs have not as yet been made eligible for any assistance through the NDIA to manage increased costs associated with COVID-19. DIA understands that workload for Registered Plan Management Providers (RPMP) has increase significantly due to COVID-19, with this increase in workload falling well outside normal or expected workload operations and peaks. 

  • Plan Managers have been excluded from the 10% COVID-19 loading.
  • Plan Managers have been excluded from the one month advanced payment.

RPMPs are responding to the needs of participants around COVID-19 including:

  • Flexibly moving funds around within core as needed by the participant;
  • Assisting the participant to understand budget considerations and support informed trade off decisions for participants who use their plans flexibly (i.e. do you have spare core funds, or will another support be reduced, or will the participant intend to seek early plan review);
  • Setting up payment arrangements and functions with new and ad-hoc providers. Providers which are only now being engaged by the participant, LAC or Support Coordinator as prior providers are not able to deliver supports given COVID-19 (such as day programs, STA / respite, consumables and many other);
  • Increased communication to the participant as to the participants budget position, generally RPMPs are doing this substantially more often as the participant budget profile is moving and changing so quickly;
  • Responding to participant questions about how they can move funds, purchase different items (like tablets and internet as per below email), understand the 10% loading on some supports;
  • Increased assistance and communications to support regulated but not registered support providers around payment and pricing changes;
  • Increased workload to update business systems and claiming process in response to the numerous and temporary price guide changes;
  • Supporting participants and managing 12-month plan extensions with outdated price controls and often missing establishment fees.

DIA also notes that many of the existing state and federal government arrangements on offer outside of the NDIS are not available to RPMPs.

DIA has been monitoring this issue closely, and continues to engaging with the NDIA.


DIA is actively engaging with the intermediary market, to understand operating challengers and pain points during COVID-19. DIA openly encourages providers of Plan Management and Support Coordination to contact us to inform us on what you are experiencing.

In addition to providers seeking to inform DIA of operational and market challenges, NDIS registered providers have a range of reporting obligations under the NDIS Quality and Safe Guards Commission including Section 13A of the NDIS Provider Registration and Practice Standards) Rules 2018. These legislative rules require Registered Providers to  give the Commissioner notice of any of the following events:

  1. An event that significantly affects the provider’s ability to comply with any of the provider’s conditions of registration;
  2. A change that adversely affects access by a person with disability to the supports or services the provider is registered to provide;
  3. An adverse change in the provider’s financial capacity to provide any of the supports or services the provider is registered to provide;
  4. A significant change in the organisation or governance arrangements of the provider;
  5. An event, relating to the suitability of the provider to provide supports or services to people with disability, to which the Commissioner would be required to have regard under any of paragraphs 9(2)(c) to (h) if the provider were an applicant for registration as a registered NDIS provider;
  6. An event, relating to the suitability of the provider’s key personnel to be involved in the provision of supports or services that the provider is registered to provide, to which the Commissioner would be required to have regard under any of paragraphs 10(2)(b) to (g) if the provider were an applicant for registration as a registered NDIS provider.

Notice of such an event must be given to the Commissioner:

  1. On the form approved by the Commissioner (Online Form Here); and
  2. As soon as practicable after the event occurs.

This will included situations where Registered Intermediary Providers are experiencing operating stress and looking to suspend or withdraw from service.



Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Stuart Robert, today (27th April) announced further initiatives to support NDIS participants and disability providers during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Australian Government has been encouraged by the positive response to the initiatives in place to support NDIS participants and disability providers during the coronavirus pandemic. We also continue identifying new ways to provide additional support as the situation evolves.

For the next five months, eligible participants will be able to flexibly use existing NDIS plan funding to purchase low-cost Assistive Technology, including smart devices, to enable continued access to disability supports through telehealth and telepractice while physical distancing regulations are in place for coronavirus pandemic. This new development is important for ensuring NDIS participants remain connected to their services and disability supports.”

Read the full media release.



During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic response, the NDIA are hearing about innovative ways providers including Allied Health professionals are continuing to deliver services to participants – some of these are online.

The NDIA recommends participants and their families and carers work with their existing providers to discuss the best way to receive services and supports while maintaining physical distancing – this may include using available technology, developing exercise programs participants can do at home or borrowing equipment and keeping in touch over the phone.

Parents and guardians should also talk to their child’s provider about everyday activities they can do with their child, using items available at home and including new activities in everyday play.

To help participants continue to receive their NDIS funded supports and services during this period, the NDIA has temporarily broadened the flexible approach to purchasing low cost AT items. This allows participants to access low cost AT items, such as smart devices and fitness equipment, in consultation with their existing support providers.

Participants can now use their existing NDIS funding to purchase and item if:

  • it will maintain funded NDIS supports like a program, therapy or requirement (for example physiotherapy or Auslan interpreting provided via video conferencing); and
  • the provider of supports has confirmed in writing the device is necessary to continue supports and services while maintaining physical distancing requirements; and
  • it is the lowest specification that will maintain funded supports; and
  • they do not already have the item, another suitable item or access to the item: and
  • the item has not been funded by another service system (such as education): and
  • the item or circumstances are not specifically excluded.

Participants are able to spend up to $1500 on low cost AT items from their existing budgets. Participants should not spend more than $750 on electronic devices needed to maintain existing services.

In the case of computer tablets for telehealth and care or participating in online video classes, advice from AT specialists is that most NDIS participants will not need more than a standard tablet. Participants can use their funding flexibly to purchase low cost AT using funding in their core – consumables budget. Plan managed or self-managed participants can purchase these items from any provider, and Agency managed participants can purchase these from any registered NDIS provider (this could include a therapy or support coordination provider).

This is a time limited policy which will be in place until September 2020 and will be reviewed at the end of June 2020. This new approach acknowledges many face to face services are being suspended, and capacity building supports and interpreting services which cannot be delivered face to face are now being delivered online.

The NDIA know not all participants have funding available in core budgets for consumables – so the NDIA is working on a system update to make sure this flexibility is available to everyone. This change will happen automatically on 9 May 2020. Participants who only have funding in their capacity building budget will be able to use a special line item to enable use of this new flexible approach.

The following items and circumstances are excluded from this policy:

  • The item does not relate to the participants disability. A participant cannot purchase a smart device for entertainment, education or gaming. A participant cannot purchase fitness equipment not previously used or recommended by the participant’s provider or therapist in existing funded supports.
  • Devices with extra specifications above the basic model. A participant can only purchase device which is fit for purpose for maintaining NDIS funded supports. The NDIS will generally fund the lowest specification. Top of the range specifications can only be justified if they are required as a result of a person’s disability. For example: Therabands and a fitness ball may be sufficient to maintain an exercise program rather than a gym set. In the case of computer solutions, only participants who require ‘head tracking’ and other solutions are likely to need a large screen tablet, most other participants would only require entry level tablet. The participant should consult a specialised AT provider to advise them on any more complex products before making a purchase.
  • Smart phones or tablets with mobile connections cannot be purchased. Video conferencing and other functionality participants will need to access supports is available on tablets or computers which are in scope and connect using wifi.
  • Participants cannot purchase multiple devices. A single item can be purchased, where the participant does not already own or have access to a device that would meet their needs to continue to access supports and services. This includes if the participant already owns or has access to a suitable device through:
    • existing individual or family ownership
    • employment (for the purpose of working remotely)
    • education (for the purpose of studying remotely)
  • Replacements for loss or damage will generally follow the existing NDIS AT replacement policy (noting that replacement of items will generally not apply once this policy ends).
  • Internet connection and data, these are considered ordinary living costs (utilities) and are excluded from this policy.
  • Software. This policy will not fund applications or software, however apps which have been specified and approved in a plan can be paid for with NDIS funding.
  • Additional hardware or accessories, other than standard protective cases will not be funded by the NDIS. This includes:
    • screen protectors
    • additional or back up chargers
    • selfie sticks
    • connection cables

Additional hardware and accessories may be purchased if they relate to using the device because of the participant’s disability, such as mounting on a wheelchair for a person with limited grip or rugged case where related to behaviour issues.

  • Purchase of items when renting the item might be a better option. For example, for some items that cost more than $100, participants should consider renting these items during the COVID-19 constraints if that would be better value for money than purchasing them.

More information can be found on the NDIA Assistive Technology Webpage.

How can a participant purchase low cost AT under this policy?

  • Low cost AT items can be purchased using the consumables support category in the core support budget of a participant’s NDIS plan.
  • Under this new approach a participant cannot purchase items over $1500 and must comply with the exclusions, but the NDIA does not think participants will need to spend more than $750 to get the items they needed to maintain existing services.
  • In the case of computer tablets or iPads for telehealth/care or participating in online video classes, advice from AT specialists is that most NDIS participants will not need more than a standard tablet, which costs no more than $600.
  • A participants core support budget is fungible (flexible) – so if they don’t have enough money in their consumables support budget, they can use other funding allocated to them in core.
  • Participants should work with their existing provider(s) to discuss the best way to receive services and supports while maintaining physical distancing – this may include using equipment and devices they already have, following exercise programs at home or borrowing equipment and keeping in touch over the phone.
  • Participants should ensure any low cost AT they buy meets their needs, helps them reach their goals and is value for money. Participants should compare prices of similar AT items or the cost of the same items from different providers to make sure they are getting the best value.
  • Participants should consider the following when deciding on how much to pay for a support:
    • Value-for-money: Is the cost of the support reasonable when they think about the benefit they will get?
    • Quality: Is the quality of the item right and will it help them achieve their goals?
    • Budget: How much funding do they have available in their NDIS plan and can they afford the amount of support they need within their budget?
  • If a specific item is needed to maintain supports, a participants provider will need to provide written confirmation (letter or email) that the device is necessary and appropriate to continue supports and services.

What needs to be included in the written confirmation?

  • If a specific item is required to maintain supports, written confirmation will be required to support this purchase. This written confirmation can be issued by any NDIS funded provider delivering support to that participant.
  • The written advice (a letter or email) should include:
    • the participant’s name and NDIS number;
    • confirmation that delivery of current supports in the participant’s plan have been significantly hindered due to physical distancing restrictions (or other consequences of COVID-19) and that alternate solutions to maintain delivery/outcome have been considered, but do not fully address the limitations;
    • how the device is necessary to maintain supports and services while maintaining physical distancing requirements;
    • the specific technologies and associated accessories  required, and that these represent the lowest specification capable of delivering the benefit; and
    • that the participant is able to use the device/s to access the support.
  • Before the participant (or nominee), provider or RPMP makes a claim for the selected item, the participant should be sure that:
  • the participant does not already have the item, another suitable item or access to the item, and
  • a similar or suitable item has not been funded by another service system (such as education), and
  • the item or circumstances are not specifically excluded under this policy.

Participants that need assistance or support to purchase AT can engage:

  • Support coordinators (where funded, or where Core supports are used flexibility to purchase Support Coordination) or their LAC to assist them with connecting to and sourcing the supply of the AT items under this policy.
  • A RPMP can support a participant (that is Plan-managed) to move funds around within their core budget to purchase these supports, in some circumstances a RPMP may be able to provide some further information about the cost and supply of these supports.

Plan-Managed participants purchasing AT under this policy:

  • Can purchase these items from any provider (registered or non-registered).
  • Should check with their RPMP to see that they have enough funds in their plan to cover the equipment they are considering prior to any purchase. The NDIA will not increase plan values to accommodate the purchase of a device.
  • Must provide their RPMP (either directly from the issuing provider or via the participant) a copy of the provider written confirmation for audit purposes or to supply it to the NDIA upon request.
  • The Plan Manager must submit the evidence letter/email from their provider to with subject “Low cost AT flexibility evidence” before the plan manager processes a payment claim with the NDIA. Based on current NDIA advise the RPMP must “submit” the evidence / supporting letter to the NDIA,there is no requirement or approval process.

Self-Managed participants purchasing AT under this policy:

  • Can purchase these items from any provider (registered or non-registered).
  • Should check themselves to see that they have enough funds in their plan to cover the equipment they are considering prior to any purchase. The NDIA will not increase plan values to accommodate the purchase of a device.
  • Must keep a copy of the provider written confirmation for audit purposes or to supply it to the NDIA upon request.

Agency-Managed participants purchasing AT under this policy:

  • Can only purchase these from a registered NDIS provider.
  • Should check themselves and speak with their to see that they have enough funds in their plan to cover the equipment they are considering prior to any purchase. The NDIA will not increase plan values to accommodate the purchase of a device.
  • Their NDIS registered provider supplying the AT may need to attach this written confirmation (a letter or email) to their service booking when they process a payment claim with the NDIA.

No funding available in core for consumables?

  • Not all participants have funding available in core budgets for consumables – the NDIA is working on a system update to make sure this flexibility is available to everyone.
  • If a participants plan does not have at least $1 in the consumables support category they will need to wait until 9 May 2020 before they will be able to purchase their item(s).
  • To assist participant access to supports and interpreting services being delivered online, the NDIA has added a new support item which enables access to capacity building funds for low cost AT such as fitness equipment and smart devices.
  • The new line items is “COVID-19 low cost AT to support capacity building support delivery” (15_222400911_0124_1_3).
  • Whist this line item has been added to the Price Guide / Support Catalogue DIA understands that the NDIA Business System / Portals will be updated with this change automatically on 9 May 2020. Participants in this situation should wait until then to purchase AT items.

What fitness equipment can a participant purchase under this policy?

  • Any fitness equipment a participant purchases should have been used with their providers before physical distancing requirements came into place.
  • A participants provider, OT, allied health professional or therapist should advise them on the fitness equipment they need to purchase to continue their therapy at home. The provider should confirm in writing that this equipment is necessary to maintain their NDIS funded supports.
  • Their providers might also be able to loan them this equipment, or they might be able to hire it for the time they need it.
  • A participant cannot purchase items over $1500 and must only use their NDIS funding on supports and services that are related to their disability and will help them to achieve the goals in their NDIS plan.

Generally, play equipment is not funded under the NDIS.

  • Generally, the NDIA consider play equipment is considered an everyday item.
  • Unless this equipment was part of their plan prior to COVID-19 it is unlikely that any additional equipment would be required.
  • Their service provider may explore with the participant how to use every day play equipment, routines and activities at home or in the community to progress towards their child’s goals.

AT Rentals for participants leaving hospital.

  • The NDIA has added the below two new support items to the NDIA Price Guide / Support Catalogue. This is to assist participants leaving hospital to access the assistive technology they need for 30 days until their short, medium and long term assistive technology and home modification needs can be assessed and an amended plan put in place.
  • COVID-19 Hospital Discharge ‒ AT rental for personal mobility and transfer (05_120000115_0105_1_2)
  • COVID-19 Hospital Discharge ‒ AT rental products for personal care and safety (05_090000155_0103_1_2)

To allow registered NDIS providers to better use your existing workforce to respond to COVID-19, the Australian Government has announced a temporary lifting of the work restrictions for international students. This means international students in your current workforce are no longer restricted to working 40 hours per fortnight. The changes do not apply to any new employees you engage.

These temporary changes have been introduced to support providers who are likely to face staffing challenges as existing staff are either subject to self-isolation requirements or due to exposure to COVID-19.

These changes to student visa work conditions are temporary and will be reviewed regularly. The Department of Home Affairs will advise in writing when these temporary measures will be removed.

Further information about these changes are in the letter from the Department of Home Affairs.

For further information about these changes, visit the Department of Home Affairs website.


Some people with disability are at greater risk of suffering more serious negative health outcomes than the general population if they contract COVID-19. To address the factors that contribute to this, the Australian Government has released the Management and Operational Plan for COVID-19 for People with Disability.

The Operational Plan is primarily a health sector response to the needs of people with disability during the pandemic, and sets out the roles and responsibilities for protecting the health of people with disability from COVID-19 infection in such areas as planning, implementing public health measures, safeguarding, research, coordination and evaluation.

While health and disability agencies of the Australian and state and territory governments take the lead in many of these areas, providers and people with disability, families, carers and support workers also play a key role.

Objectives of the Plan

The objectives of the Plan are to:

  • minimise COVID-19-related transmission, morbidity and mortality among people with disability
  • guide action across Australia, including rural and remote areas in reducing the risk of COVID-19 for people with disability, including children, young people and adults
  • inform, engage and empower all people with disability, their families, carers and support workers in relation to COVID-19
  • identify and characterise the nature of the virus, and the clinical severity of the disease as it relates to people with disability
  • support effective care, including rehabilitation, for people with disability who contract COVID-19, and reduce additional burden from COVID-19 for healthcare and disability support workers
  • support people with disability continuing to have access to essential health care for non-COVID conditions, including mental health conditions, through the pandemic period.

The Plan includes possible actions and special considerations relating to people with disability, during the three critical phases of:

  • Phase 1  Preparedness – to reduce the risk of infection in people with disability
  • Phase 2 Targeted Action – optimising responses to help recovery in the event of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection of people with disability and minimise further transmission
  • Phase 3 Stand Down and Evaluation – standing down enhanced measures.
    The Plan is a living document and will be updated as new evidence emerges.

Implementing the Plan

The Australian Government Department of Health will oversee the Plan’s implementation, drawing on an expert advisory committee with representatives from the health and disability sectors and academics. The NDIS Commission is a member of the advisory group and is working with the Department of Health on areas within our remit that concern NDIS participants, including providing guidance to NDIS providers.

We encourage you to read the Plan, and understand your role in protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of the NDIS participants you support. We will continue to issue regular guidance and support to you, NDIS workers and participants during this time.


Australian Government Stimulus

The Government is acting decisively in the national interest to support households and businesses and address the significant economic consequences of the Coronavirus. While the full economic effects from the virus remain uncertain, the outlook has deteriorated since the Government’s initial Economic Response announced on 12 March 2020.

On 22 March the Government announced a second set of economic responses which, combined with our previous actions, total $189 billion across the forward estimates, representing 9.7 per cent of annual GDP.

Full details can be found on the Australing Government Treasuary webpage and include:

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A Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit has been established within The Treasury to engage with business on a regular basis and provide updates to government on crucial issues.

Australian Tax Office (ATO)

The ATO has developed a COVID-19 page which includes support available for businesses (includes NFPs).


Registrations for JobKeeper payments formally opened on the 20th April 2020. Organisations seeking to be eligible for the first months’ worth of payments, registrations must be submitted by Sunday 26th April. DIA has received lots of questions about JobKeeper and how it might apply to the Intermediaries Sector.

The JobKepper payment stimulus program is new and rapidly evolving. Intermediary providers should expect ongoing change, determinations and clarification by the ATO, so make sure you keep up-to date. The below should not be considered as tax or financial advice, organisations should speak with their tax agents, accountant and/or financial advisors about what the changes will mean for them.

Organisation eligibility requirements for JobKeeper include:

  • On the 1 March 2020 were an Australian operating business that has an ABN; and

  • On the 1 March 2020 were / are not bankrupt, under administration or trading whist insolvent; and

  • Between March 2020 and September 2020 has or expects to have a drop in turnover of

    • 15% for registered charities (ACNC); or

    • 50% for organisations with a turnover of $1B or more; or

    • 30% for all other Australians businesses; and

  • On the 1 March 2020, employ eligible staff that are an Australian Citizen, Australian Resident for tax purposes or 444 Special Category visa holder (New Zealand subclass) which are:
    • 16 years or older; and
    • employed on a full-time, part-time or casual (for at least 12 months) basis; and
    • not on Paid Parental Leave or Workers Compensation; and
    • not registered for JobKeeper payments by another business.

For more information visit the ATO website.

Insurance and Business continuity

Now COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic it is likely that your business interruption insurance will not cover a closure resulting from the virus. Speak to your insurer about the details of your policies, including how they may respond to potential claims by people in your care.

The Institute of Community Directors has provided a free Epidemic/Pandemic Policy templatewhich you can edit to suit your organisation’s needs.

Able Australia, has kindly made their COVID-19 Response Plan available to other service providers to help guide their preparations.

Cyber Security

The Australian Signals Directorate is cautioning organisations to incorporate cyber security into their COVID-19 business continuity and work from home planning. As the use of remote access technology increases, adversaries may attempt to take advantage.


  • The NDIA is publishing regular information about the Coronavirus as well as advice to participants and providers on its Disaster Recovery Webpage. DIA will advise members of specific advice the Agency releases relevant to disability service providers, but we suggest members also periodically check the Agency’s Disaster Recovery Page.

In line with the Australian Government’s advice, all NDIA offices will be closed to the public, and face-to-face meetings will no longer be conducted, from close of business, Monday 23 March. Services are being provided via phone, email and webchat.

The Minister for the NDIS has announced a range of measures to support NDIS participants and providers during this time. The NDIA is working to implement these initiatives as soon as possible.

  • To support NDIS providers’ business viability during this time, financial assistance will be available to support retention of workers. This includes a one-month advance payment, based on the monthly average of claims made through the portal over the last three months.
  • To cover the additional costs of service delivery, a 10 per cent loading will also be added to price limits for certain supports, for up to six months.
  • The NDIA has increased the flexibility of the cancellation claiming policy to allow providers to claim 100 per cent of a service cancelled by the participant, instead of 90 per cent as per the current policy. The definition of ‘short notice cancellation’ will also be broadened.

NDIA is constantly updating the resources on this page to reflect these new measures. Learn more about these new measures:

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The NDIS National and Quality and Safeguard Commission (NQSC) is providing regular advice to Registered NDIS providers and has links to Provider Alerts that contain important information for NDIS Providers about COVID-19.

NDIS Commission Coronavirus COVID-19 information webpage contains links to updates, training, alerts, and resources for NDIS participants and providers. This information is to inform and support NDIS providers to continue to deliver quality and safe supports and services to NDIS Participants, including:

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Providers are required to notify NQSC of any changes to the scale of their operations. They can do this emailing or calling 1800 035 544. 


The NDIS Commission, as reported to DIA Members yesterday, has today released information on Registration and Audit process in response to COVID19.
The NDIS Commission recognises that the current focus of NDIS providers on managing infection risk to participants and workers, and undertaking business continuity planning to ensure continuity of support and services to participants during the COVID19 pandemic, is likely to affect the readiness and capacity of some providers to engage with any registration renewal audits, particularly on-site activities.
As a result, we have advised approved auditors to:

  • Ensure audit practices minimise the risk of exposure to COVID19 for participants, providers and auditors.
  • Where audits are scheduled to occur, engage with providers to confirm their availability to continue where practicable to do so.
  • Delay or reschedule audit dates where providers are not in a position to proceed with these.
  • The NDIS Commission will provide targeted advice to registered NDIS providers, including arrangements for varying conditions of registration, where necessary, to allow an extended period of time to complete the registration process, including audits.

More information is available on the NDIS Commission website.

DIA welcomes this news, it will assist Support Coordinators & Plan Managers who are seeing significant workloads responding to COVID19.



The Commonwealth Department of Health provides the official status of the virus in Australia. Its site includes broad advice for consumers and health professionals. Central to its advice is the importance of washing hands regularly.  Among other resources, their ‘how to wash and dry hands’ poster may be useful for your workplace.

Practise good hygiene by sneezing into your elbow or a tissue, dispose of the tissue, wash your hands and use sanitiser

The Commonwealth Department of Health webpage also includes:

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State and Territory health departments provide various local information and resources including posters and in-language fact sheets.


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Safe Work Australia advises, the national model WHS laws require a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers and others at the workplace. This includes providing and maintaining a work environment that is without risks to health and safety. Information for PCBUs and workers can be found on the Australian Government Department of Health website.

State and Territory Work Health and Safety regulators also provide information on maintaining workplace safety. WorkSafe Victoria has released a guide for employers, ‘Preparing for a pandemic’, which SafeWork NSW also refers to, and may be helpful for DIA members and Intermediay Providers nationally.


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Working from Home

Infoxchange has technology advice for NFPs, including working from home tips and links to free online business applications

Workplace Laws

Be mindful of industrial relations as well as work health and safety responsibilities. Check Fair Work Commission advice, for example if you need to stand down employees.

The Fairwork Ombudsman has released advice specific to COVID-19and how it relates to workplace laws


Training Courses

Suggestions from DIA members:

Thank you to members who have already provided examples of support and information, which they are relying upon during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  We encourage members to continue to share with us through their State and Territory Managers, so we can help to share your information to all.

  • Pre-prepare/plan communications to staff, participants and their families – e.g. at planning stage; if there is local transmission; if there are restrictions placed on meetings of groups.
  • So far as possible, consider your organisational responses in the event the virus is being transmitted within our communities.
  • Provide flu vaccinations for all staff and potentially their immediate family.
  • Provide cross–skills training to provide an extra element of cover in the event of staff absences, and closing some support services to redeploy resources to other areas.
  • If necessary, direct staff to essential rather than capacity building supports.

Easy Read Information

NDIA have recently published Easy Read information relating to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

This information should be considered in the context of formal advice given through the Federal and State Health Authorities. Each organisation will need an individualised response that reflects the risks, size and types of supports they provide.


Renewal of DIA Memberships

In recognition of the support our members give DIA along with understanding many of the challenges being faced by Disability Providers during this pandemic, all DIA memberships that were scheduled to expire before 1 June 2020 will be extended free of charge to 30 June 2020. For some members this will means 5 – 6 months free membership extension.

DIA thanks all of its members for its support and looks forward to delivering major outcomes for Intermediary providers in the 2020/2021 Financial Year.